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hawaiiansteel
09-10-2010, 03:37 PM
Cook: Steelers' Arians loves the pressure

Friday, September 10, 2010
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/201009/20100910arians_500.jpg


Peter Diana/Post-Gazette


Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians: "I love the pressure. I love that bull's-eye on my back. I love having the responsibility in my hands."

There are a lot of ways the Steelers can beat the Atlanta Falcons Sunday. Dennis Dixon could play lights out. Rashard Mendenhall could run for 150 yards and three touchdowns. The defense could pitch a shutout. Troy Polamalu could return an interception for a score. But there's only one way the Steelers can lose. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians screws things up by calling a rotten game.

That's the perception of many around town, isn't it?

"I've heard that," Arians said after practice Thursday.

You should have seen the man laugh. I'd like to say it was a belly laugh, but Arians doesn't have nearly the belly he did last season. He lost 35 pounds over the summer on a diet. His critics -- and they are many -- have a lot less of him to kick around.

That won't stop 'em, of course. Not that Arians cares. He learned a long time ago that scrutiny and criticism go with his job because everyone truly believes they can call the plays better than the offensive coordinator. He pays no attention to it. Certainly, he has paid no attention to it since the spring of 2007 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a prostatectomy.

It's amazing how being a cancer survivor changes a person's perspective about what's really important in life.

No doubt it helped Arians get through a tough season in '09. The Steelers' offense was prolific at times. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 4,328 yards. Wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward had 1,000-yard years. Tight end Heath Miller had 76 catches. Mendenhall ran for 1,108 yards. But, too often, the offense had a hard time running the ball in short-yardage situations, especially near the goal line. It didn't do enough to help the defense protect five fourth-quarter leads.

There was widespread speculation Arians would pay the price with his job after the Steelers finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

"You don't like hearing it," Arians said of an ESPN1250 radio report Jan. 5 that he was going to be fired, "especially when you feel like you did a pretty good job. I felt fine about [his job status], but you don't know for sure. Sometimes when there's smoke, there's fire ... "

Asked about the report in March, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette, "I don't know where it came from." For his part, Steelers president Art Rooney II told Bouchette that he didn't go to Tomlin to ask for Arians' job only to be talked out of the firing by Tomlin. "I never went to Mike and said we have to fire Bruce." All were vehement that any lobbying for Arians that Roethlisberger might have done had nothing to do with Arians being back. "It's really a joke," Tomlin said. Added Arians, "If they're going to fire you, they're going to fire you."

This much I know for sure:

I'm glad the Steelers didn't fire Arians. That wouldn't have been just an injustice, it would have been flat-out wrong. The team won the Super Bowl after the '08 season with him as coordinator. Roethlisberger loves playing for him. I sense that all of his guys do.

Now, it's a new season. You know what that means. Starting Sunday, all eyes will be on the Steelers' offense. All eyes will be on Arians' play-calling.

Bring on the scrutiny, the man said.

"I can't wait to get started. I'm really eager to see what we can do. This is a really good football team here."

Even with Dixon, who has gone from third-team quarterback to starter because of Roethlisberger's four-game NFL-mandated suspension and Byron Leftwich's knee injury?

"Dennis is going to be fine," Arians said. "It's a night-and-day difference where he is now as opposed to the Baltimore game" last season when Dixon made his first and only NFL start.

The circumstances are different as well.

"We didn't have a reliable backup at that point last season," Arians said. "It was like, 'Dennis, don't run. Throw the ball away if you have to. You can't get hurt.' Now we have Charlie Batch backing him up. We don't have to be afraid to let Dennis play."

Arians is expected to try to ease the pressure on Dixon by calling Mendenhall's number often. One change Rooney II did ask Tomlin to make after last season was to run the ball better. Not more, necessarily. Just better.

In other words, convert those third-and-1s and fourth-and-1s.

"There's no better feeling than handing the ball off and kicking [butt]," Arians said, clearly on board with that plan. "It's a bad feeling when you have to be tricky on third-and-1 ...

"I love to run the ball. That sets up what I love to do the most. Throw it deep."

Arians won't care what the Steelers' run-pass ratio is Sunday as long as they win. Nor will Rooney II or Tomlin.

Now Arians' critics ...

I think back to something Arians said during Super Bowl week after that '08 season.

"I could have stayed a quarterbacks coach or a wide receivers coach. I could have stayed out of the limelight. But that's not me. I love the pressure. I love that bull's-eye on my back. I love having the responsibility in my hands."

Scrutiny?

Really, bring it on.

The man can handle it.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10253/10 ... z0z9nSqjRW (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10253/1086440-87.stm#ixzz0z9nSqjRW)

Djfan
09-10-2010, 03:46 PM
I still don't like him. I think the whole "I like this target on my back" is just posturing.

papillon
09-10-2010, 03:46 PM
Bruce Arians and the offense weren't the sole problem last year and they won't be the sole problem this year either.

In order:

Defense needs to play 4 quarters
Special Teams can't give up big plays and need to make a few of their own
The offense needs to do a better job in the red zone
Mike Tomlin needs to eliminate the in-game poor (questionable) decisions.

Pappy

Sugar
09-10-2010, 03:53 PM
IMO, the Offense was the least of our worries last year. I'm not a fan or critic of BA, but I think he's done a basically solid job from what I can see.

BURGH86STEEL
09-10-2010, 06:37 PM
IMO, the Offense was the least of our worries last year. I'm not a fan or critic of BA, but I think he's done a basically solid job from what I can see.

I agree, I think Arians has done a good job. I will say that the offense needs to improve in a few areas. I believe most of that improvement falls on the players. Execution is the key to winning games.

BradshawsHairdresser
09-10-2010, 06:50 PM
IMO, the Offense was the least of our worries last year. I'm not a fan or critic of BA, but I think he's done a basically solid job from what I can see.

I agree, I think Arians has done a good job. I will say that the offense needs to improve in a few areas. I believe most of that improvement falls on the players. Execution is the key to winning games.

You reminded me of something the Bucs' head coach said after a game one year when they were terrible. Asked, "What do you think about your players' execution?" he replied, "I'm in favor of it."

feltdizz
09-10-2010, 07:12 PM
I still don't like him. I think the whole "I like this target on my back" is just posturing.

can't see how anyone who didn't like him before would like him now. It's not like it was a story about Arians saving baby seals...

any story that puts BA in a positive light, proves he wasn't getting fired or doesnt blame him for global warming is lies... all lies.

AngryAsian
09-11-2010, 07:36 AM
IMO, the Offense was the least of our worries last year. I'm not a fan or critic of BA, but I think he's done a basically solid job from what I can see.

I agree, I think Arians has done a good job. I will say that the offense needs to improve in a few areas. I believe most of that improvement falls on the players. Execution is the key to winning games.


I have never been one of the ones blaming Arians for this team's entire woes. When a team loses, its the whole 53 man roster and a great amount of culpability falls upon the entire coaching staff.... my issue with Arians (and has always been) is his "let's jam a square peg in a round hole mentality." It seems he doesn't have the ability to take what the opposing defenses give him and adjust his game plan to insure offensive success. Creativity to design plays based on his personnel's strengths is yet another issue. One could argue that statistically the '08 season was a banner year for offensive numbers. But our '08 championship campaign weighed so heavily on two major components: our defensive unit's phenomenal ability to render a splash play at a key moment is various games and Ben's innate ability to extend play after broken play. IMO, this is why BA has been a focal point of some of The Nation's ire... truly, in a league designed to promote massive offensive outputs, it seems we have an OC that often produces 'head-scratching' play calls that leave us with a "what the f*ck was that!" When I see what Sean Peyton was able to do with a top 3 defensive unit last Thursday (and throughout the whole season last year *against Miami, erasing a 3 touchdown deficit for the win*)... just wished our offensive production yield better, consistent results. People can reflect in player execution all they want, but it all starts with the architect of the play.

BURGH86STEEL
09-11-2010, 09:37 AM
IMO, the Offense was the least of our worries last year. I'm not a fan or critic of BA, but I think he's done a basically solid job from what I can see.

I agree, I think Arians has done a good job. I will say that the offense needs to improve in a few areas. I believe most of that improvement falls on the players. Execution is the key to winning games.


I have never been one of the ones blaming Arians for this team's entire woes. When a team loses, its the whole 53 man roster and a great amount of culpability falls upon the entire coaching staff.... my issue with Arians (and has always been) is his "let's jam a square peg in a round hole mentality." It seems he doesn't have the ability to take what the opposing defenses give him and adjust his game plan to insure offensive success. Creativity to design plays based on his personnel's strengths is yet another issue. One could argue that statistically the '08 season was a banner year for offensive numbers. But our '08 championship campaign weighed so heavily on two major components: our defensive unit's phenomenal ability to render a splash play at a key moment is various games and Ben's innate ability to extend play after broken play. IMO, this is why BA has been a focal point of some of The Nation's ire... truly, in a league designed to promote massive offensive outputs, it seems we have an OC that often produces 'head-scratching' play calls that leave us with a "what the f*ck was that!" When I see what Sean Peyton was able to do with a top 3 defensive unit last Thursday (and throughout the whole season last year *against Miami, erasing a 3 touchdown deficit for the win*)... just wished our offensive production yield better, consistent results. People can reflect in player execution all they want, but it all starts with the architect of the play.

There are some that blame BA for everything that goes wrong with the team. Some even focus on what he did in Cleveland as a basis to judge him today.

Taking what the defense gives is the QB's decision to make. Ultimately, it is the QB's and defenses decision where the ball goes. It can be proven that the offense had success. They need to improve in a few areas.

It appears there were play designs that took advantage of players strengths. For instance, Wallace's 19.4 YPC lead all rookie WR's. That average lead all WR's with 30 or more catches. Other offensive players had good seasons in the offense. Red zone and short yardage offense struggled for several reasons. The biggest reason was probably the Oline's inconsistency.

When mentioning and thinking about the 08 season, do you take into consideration the fact that the Oline and RB positions were decimated by injuries? They lost their best Olineman (Faneca) after the 07 season. How can that be a banner year? Do you mean positive or negative banner year?

I guess it is logical BA would be the focal point of the Nations ire because of the defenses play and Ben's ability to extend plays. I guess it makes BA contributions look minuscule. Plus, some fans have to pick on someone.

The defense has/had better overall talent then the offense. Based on Ben's style, any OC would benefit from Ben's ability to extend plays. Ben's been better from the pocket no matter how you want to slice it. BA deserves some credit for that. He also deserves some credit for helping Ben become one of the best 2 minute QB's in the game. There are other areas and players that I can point out that had success in the BA offense. If they can manage to improve the players they have on the Oline, the offense could improve. The talent on the Oline may or may not be there. Only time will tell.

All OC's call head scratching plays. I saw a few myself with the Vikes and Saints. I see them every game I watch, from every coach in the league.

The Saints put up 14 points against the Vikings. The players made EXECUTION mistakes but 14 points is 14 points. Last season the Saints had a +11 turnover ratio. That gave their offense many more opportunities to score.

How did the great Shawn Peyton let his team fall behind 21 points? Shawn Peyton did not erase anything. Coaches don't step onto field. It was mostly the Saint's players that erased that deficit. Just like it was the Saints players that put the team in that position to come back. IMO, the Dolphins should had been ashamed to blow a 21 point lead. Fortunately, the Steelers have not been down 21 often, if at all. We've seen some great 4th QT wins by the Steelers offense. That's when the, "win in spite" of BA crowd comes out. Seems very few want to give the man credit for anything.

There is a place for coaching. IMO, football is a sport that boils down mostly to the players. Show me a sport that does not. It's why you see very good coaches fail with other teams. Give BA the Saints players and we will have a better offensive unit. Coaches are only as good as the players they coach.

Djfan
09-11-2010, 09:53 AM
Just because someone doesn't like BA doesn't mean that they think that all of the problems of the team were on him. The D forgot to play four quarters at times. Agreed. The special teams were special Ed teams at times. Agreed.

Still, his stubborn refusal to look at the opportunities, and to "play our game" instead, kills me.

I hope this is his epiphany year, or his last year. Don't care which one.

feltdizz
09-11-2010, 10:11 AM
Great points Burghsteel. I watched shawn Payton call a bootleg that didn't work. When we do it and it doesn't work its fire and brimstone. Brees was exposed a few times because of good blitzes by the Vikes. The Saints controlled the whole first half for the most part and only had 7 points to show for it.

As far as broken plays go. I remember Ben saying he does it in practice to get in sync with his WR's. The guy practices broken plays... You think it would be different with a better OC? He did the same thing with Whiz but with the former we had pro bowlers on our OL. In 2008 our OL was injury filled and we still had decent production but our OC can't take advantage of our personnel?

We just solidified the Center position and I expect a much better year running between the tackles. All the blame Arians gets is because people aren't willing to criticize the playmakers when they come up short.

stlrz d
09-11-2010, 03:19 PM
“Coaching is pretty simple really. If you don’t got something, find something you do got. Really, we didn’t have but one [defensive lineman] – [Hall of Famer] Elvin [Bethea] – until we got Curley [Culp] in the middle of that season. Then we had two. What we did have was four real good linebackers, so all I done was find a way to get our best players on the field.”
--Bum Phillips

BA, take a lesson from this man. O line not up to snuff? Then work with what you've got and make adjustments to your scheme.